A sense of belonging is a fundamental human need that is yearned for at home, school, and work. It is much more than just fitting in or assimilation, which often requires individuals to deny aspects of themselves or conceal their core identities to meet the expectations, preferences, and values of the group. Workplace belonging is an emotional connection to the company that employees feel, reflecting the extent to which they feel appreciated, respected, and supported by others in the work environment. Employees who feel a strong sense of belonging at work are engaged, productive, happy, creative, and show up for the team.
True workplace belonging is rooted in authentic, positive connections to coworkers and supervisors, grounded in the reality of one’s truth. It is feeling seen and celebrated for one’s unique contributions to the team and organization, being supported in daily work, and being proud of the employing organization’s vision, mission, and values, as they align with one’s own.
Workplace belonging is a critical dimension of successful businesses and is linked to operational excellence. It creates a culture marked by mutual respect, collaboration, collegiality, and fun, resulting in an emotionally invested workforce, improved corporate culture, better collaboration, and optimal productivity. To create conditions for workplace belonging, businesses must make it a top priority, encourage collaboration, invite everyone to contribute, and celebrate accomplishments.
Employers who prioritize workplace belonging benefit from high levels of job satisfaction, less burnout, low staff turnover, better performance metrics, and increased profitability. Workplace belonging means feeling valued, connected, respected, safe/secure, included, and valued as a member of the team within a work environment where one can be their authentic self, contribute to the organization’s goals, and receive support, praise, and constructive feedback from colleagues and leaders.
Dr. Terrell Strayhorn is a Professor of Higher Education and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Illinois State University, a Visiting Scholar and Director of the Center for the Study of Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) at Virginia Union University, and the CEO and Founder of Do Good Work Consulting Group. He is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, Thrive Global, HubPages, and more. Dr. Strayhorn has authored 12 books and over 250 peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters, reports, and other publications. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.